Want to know how you can use every drop of gas more sustainably? From cleaning your car’s air filters to using cruise control more often, here are practical ways to improve your car’s efficiency, save money and reduce your carbon footprint.
The Benefit of an Efficient Car
While you may not be able to buy the latest electronic vehicle, there are many ways to improve your car’s efficiency. When your car burns less gas, you save money and reduce your carbon footprint. Plus, using fuel more efficiently means your gas tank will last for longer distances.
Practical Strategies to Improve Your Car’s Efficiency
As with any element of living sustainably, efficiency requires effort and consistency. The following practical tips offer a good starting point, and while they’re pretty simple, they’re also incredibly effective.
Both technical strategies and driving strategies will help you reduce fuel consumption, save money and positively impact the environment.
Technical Strategies for Improved Efficiency
Here are some maintenance tips to keep your car running efficiently.
1. Keep Wheels Aligned
You know your tires need realignment when your steering wheel vibrates. Get your car checked regularly for misalignment to prevent your tires from dragging and keep them rolling freely.
Tires that are worn down will make your car work harder since you’re trying to make up the difference. That will naturally burn more fuel than usual. If you get your car aligned, it can help it perform at maximum efficiency.
In addition to keeping your wheels aligned, ensure that your tires are inflated to reduce rolling resistance.
2. Clean Your Car’s Air Filters
Reduction in airflow from road dirt, debris and dust can increase the amount of fuel your car uses. However, a clean air filter increases efficiency. First, it optimizes your car’s performance since the air filter affects engine power and acceleration. Second, it allows clean air to flow through the engine to protect important components.
Lastly, a clean air filter will prevent misfires and black smoke from an incorrect ratio of air to fuel. Less black smoke means less emissions and, ultimately, more efficiency.
3. Clean Your Battery Cables
A sign that indicates battery corrosion is a car that struggles to start or has problems with electrical parts. Check the battery for green, white or blue on the battery posts, cables and terminal. This color comes from lead sulfate crystals around the terminals that have built up over time. If it’s there, you will need to clean it. This allows the alternator to work more efficiently and keeps the battery in good condition.
You can neutralize corrosion with a baking soda and water paste or battery cleaning spray. In some cases, you may need to scrub the battery with a wire brush. If you need to do this, take the right precautions to protect your skin. Wear gloves and rinse your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling the battery.
4. Practice Clever Fuel Hacks
Here are smart ways to get more fuel without paying more.
Take advantage of volume science by filling up your tank late at night or early in the morning. In cooler weather, fuel gets denser, so more comes out when it’s cold.
Another great way to get more gas is to keep the pump hose in your tank. You can get up to a quarter of a cup more by doing this — which translates to significant fuel savings. Wait for all the fuel to pour out of the nozzle and only remove it when the pump shuts off.
5. Clean Your Spark Plugs
The spark plugs are one of the first things to check when your car’s gas mileage drops. Misfiring spark clubs can significantly decrease fuel efficiency, while new plugs can increase fuel economy. With spark plugs in good condition, your engine will perform better and your car will be more efficient.
While most carmakers recommend replacing spark plugs every 30,000 miles, you can increase the life span with good maintenance.
6. Follow Manufacturer Recommendations
Always follow your car manual for maintenance and product recommendations. For example, the right octane gas can significantly impact your car’s performance. If the octane rating is too high or too low, it damages the engine and emissions control system.
Some manuals may suggest higher octane fuel for better vehicle performance. While it may be more expensive, it also decreases your car’s CO2 emissions, which may be worthwhile for people who want to lower their carbon footprint.
You can also improve efficiency by using the manufacturer’s recommended oil. The wrong oil can hinder your engine’s performance, increase the chances of wear and tear, and decrease your fuel efficiency. Synthetic oil, for example, is being used more and more in mainstream vehicles because it flows quickly and easily through the engine.
Driving Strategies for Improved Efficiency
Here’s how your driving habits can improve your car’s efficiency.
7. Use Cruise Control
On the highway, use cruise control to maintain a constant speed. Since acceleration uses up more gas, you want to make sure you drive most efficiently. In addition to cruise control, stick to speed limits and brake gently and gradually. Keep your foot off the brake pedal when not in use, as even a slight rest off the foot can put mechanical drag on braking components.
8. Only Carry What You Need
For every extra 100 pounds in your car, your car’s gas mileage decreases by about 1%, which adds up to a few extra cents. Over time, it adds up.
If you’re running errands and won’t need your sporting gear or other bulky items, remove them and the rack. While it does take time to remove racks, it’s worth the savings you’ll notice from reducing the load. Reducing the load also reduces wind drag, which ultimately reduces fuel consumption.
9. Drive in a High Gear
You can save on fuel by driving in the highest gear possible to reduce revolutions per minute and pressure on the engine. Some cars even have an “Instant Fuel Economy Setting” that you can use.
Other vehicles can give you gear recommendations. For example, the Kia Sportage tells you exactly when to change gears, while the Ford Fusion gamifies the process with a graphic display that sprouts leaves when you reach a fuel economy goal.
10. Run Your Errands on the Same Day
Put your eco-conscious mindset to use and practice efficiency by combining all errands and appointments into one. For example, if you have a minor doctor’s checkup in town, add a grocery trip, car wash service and bank deposit into your schedule.
When you keep your car running longer, it warms up your engine and reduces the fuel needed to start it up again.
Practice Some Mileage Magic for Efficiency
Taking proactive measures to keep your car maintained and working well will reduce fuel consumption. In addition, good driving habits will ensure you use gas more efficiently for every trip.